Some people call him the Space Cowboy. Some call him the Gangster of Love. But when Steve Miller, one of rock music’s all-time greats, joins the University of Southern California faculty this fall, he will have to get used to another moniker: Professor.
During the 2010-2011 school year, Miller will teach at the USC Thornton School of Music, named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the top music schools in the country and noted for its broad curriculum, internationally renowned faculty and immeasurable contributions to the music industry.
“To say we are thrilled about Steve joining our faculty would be an understatement,” said Chris Sampson, associate dean of the USC Thornton School of Music.
With a trademark blues-rock style, the Steve Miller Band has come to define classic rock, selling more than 30 million albums and introducing the phrase “pompitus of love” to the English lexicon. Miller’s multi-platinum songs include “The Joker,” “Rock 'n Me,” “Take the Money and Run,” “Jet Airliner,” and “Fly Like an Eagle” — all of which are played daily by classic rock stations around the country.
“This is an amazing opportunity for the students at USC Thornton. Clearly, Steve cares deeply about the next generation of musicians and wants to be a part of their growth. His willingness to share his incredible experience with our students will undoubtedly transform their experience,” Sampson said.
As an Artist in Residence at the USC Thornton School of Music, Miller will work on a regular basis with undergraduate students in the Popular Music and Music Industry programs.
In particular, Miller, whose eponymous band continues to be one of the centerpiece attractions of summer concert season, will devote attention to student bands at the USC Thornton School of Music, holding master classes with a new generation of professional musicians.
"Professor Miller will be a great addition to our already illustrious faculty," said Robert Cutietta, dean of the USC Thornton School of Music.
Launched two years ago, the Popular Music Performance program was the first of its kind at a major research university. Miller consulted on the creation of the program and continued his active interest in the USC Thornton School of Music by inviting several students to record with him in the famed Capital Records studio.
Miller’s work with USC is an extension of his devotion to music education and to his philanthropic work with Kids Rock Free, an organization that builds music schools throughout the country and provides free and very-low-cost music lessons to students between the ages of 7 and 17. More than 12,000 children thus far have participated in Kids Rock Free, for which Miller has been a longtime supporter and serves as a trustee.
In June 2010, Miller released his critically acclaimed new album, BINGO! The album serves as Miller’s musical autobiography, reaching back into his apprenticeship as a young man in the blues scene in Chicago — where he met Howlin’ Wolf playing in nightclubs and shared a bandstand with Muddy Waters — and transforming the classic rhythm and blues songs into monumental rock performances.
Last year, the Steve Miller Band presented two sold-out concerts on campus as part of the USC Thornton School of Music’s 125th anniversary celebration. The USC Thornton School of Music, founded in 1884, is the oldest continuously operating cultural institution in Los Angeles.
Steve Miller joins Grammy Award-winning musician and music director Patrice Rushen and legendary songwriter Lamont Dozier as Artists in Residence at the USC Thornton School of Music.
For more information, visit www.usc.edu/schools/music.